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BioNJ Honors NJ’s Innovators and the Patients Who Inspire Them

New Jersey’s life sciences community came out for the 23rd Annual BioNJ Annual Gateway Gala, Dinner Meeting & Innovation Celebration that recently took place at the Hilton East Brunswick. The inspirational evening celebrated the unprecedented medical innovation in the form of FDA drug approvals coming from the Garden State. Dedicated to “Patients… Because they just can’t wait,” 700 biotechnology and pharmaceutical professionals, academic leaders, service providers and government officials — including Congressman Leonard Lance, Senator Bob Gordon and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy — honored 16 Innovator companies with a footprint in New Jersey that were responsible for 27 new drug approvals granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015.

“We are so proud of New Jersey’s robust life sciences ecosystem that was responsible for more than 50 percent of all new FDA drug approvals in 2015, reinforcing the fact that New Jersey is the drug development capital of the world,” said BioNJ CEO and President Debbie Hart. “Our Members are helping patients live longer, better lives while lessening the burden of illness and disease on society. We are pleased to celebrate their important work and dedication in this way.”

Led by Congressman Lance and 7-year old rare disease patient advocate “Magic” Max Schill, the Innovator Awards ceremony saluted Allergan, Aprecia, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Eisai, Eli Lilly and Company, Genmab, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Biotech, Merck & Co., Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Sandoz, Novo Nordisk, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Pfizer, Sanofi, Taiho Oncology and The Medicines Company for gaining new FDA drug approvals in 2015.

The evening included the presentation of the ninth annual Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision, Innovation and Leadership to Dr. Clive Meanwell, Founder and CEO of The Medicines Company by Chairman of the Board, CEO of PTC Therapeutics and 2014 honoree, Dr. Stuart Peltz. The Dr. Sol J. Barer Award was established in 2008 by the BioNJ Board of Trustees to recognize outstanding leaders who’ve made significant contributions to the life sciences industry in New Jersey and around the world.

Since its inception in 1996, Dr. Meanwell has carefully guided The Medicines Company to the innovative institution it is today — known for developing products that industry experts have dubbed “game-changers” in treating cardiovascular disease, infectious disease and sedation. In 2015 alone, The Medicines Company had four U.S. approvals and four in the EU.

The evening concluded with a standing ovation for the Honorable Patrick Kennedy who discussed his personal journey and dedication to ending medical and societal discrimination against mental illness, addiction and other brain diseases. Congressman Kennedy was responsible for the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act when he was in Congress and continues that work today through the Kennedy Forum and One Mind for Research.

“The Annual Dinner was fabulous! Patrick Kennedy was excellent,” said Kathleen A. McGowan, CFO of VaxInnate Corporation following the Innovation Celebration. “Congratulations for another great event and thank you for all you do for the biotech industry; it is truly making a huge difference in people’s lives.”

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